A Roman Intaglio of an Imperial Eagle, ca 1st century AD


Finely carved intaglio featuring a single headed eagle standing on a capital, wings folded, shown frontal with head raised in right profile, a wreath grasped in its beak, and flanked by two capitals surmounted with a star. 

The eagle is one of the most ancient and popular emblems of victory, its flight taken as an augury of military success in Rome where, legend claimed, it had followed Aeneas from Troy to Italy, whereafter it was carried on Roman standards as the "bird of Jove".  A totemic symbol of the Roman emperors and a symbols of imperial power in general, the soul of the emperor was supposed to be incarnate in an eagle, being released above imperial funerary pyres to carry the soul to heaven.  The eagle was also of special significance for Roman soldiers and veterans, since each legion possessed and venerated a standard atop which sat a golden image of an eagle (aquila).

Condition:  Set in a recent 18K gold setting.  The front surface of the intaglio is in very good condition, there is a chip to the back that is concealed by the setting. 

Dimensions: US ring size 11 1/2, can be easily resized upon request.

Provenance:  Private Virginia collection, by descent to present owner.

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